essay: ferguson – make it count

October 10, 2014

Ferguson. So much has been said. Yet there is still so much left to say. The voices of the masses often abstracted and assigned to the seemingly 1-Dimensional of the “black” or of the “poor” has been pushed to their breaking point. Yet again. Structural Racism and Police Brutality have an awful historical Intersection. And you better believe I mean this too in the present tense. This goes for Ferguson as it does for my home in Cape Town. There are those who wish to view this cases as isolated. Who tamper these voices by suggesting that not all police are like this. As if at all anyone is talking about any one Policeman or Policewoman. It’s bigger than that.

Words by Brian Ihirwe Kamanzi, AFROPUNK Contributor *

Wake up.

As we see the riots rage and burn on in Ferguson we see these so called abstract issues that happen somewhere take a terrible and tangible shape. We see struggle histories updated if not rewritten. No matter how times they talk about that day in history when we voted and achieved “freedom”.. We remember together in times like this that the struggle is present tense. Don’t let the writers of the narrative fool you. Don’t sit down as if you’re done. That is the deepest disrespect to the path that has been forged beneath our feet and an irresponsible resignation from the work that must be done for us to walk again tomorrow.

Wake up.

There are feet all over the world stamping and stomping all over against the institutions that speak the language of peace by practice a behaviour of violence. Even those writers of the Global Narrative can’t hide from this. We live in times where these cuttingly hurtful images can travel continents in moments. In fact we live in times where if you ignore the relavence of the PRESENT day struggle then I’m sorry to be the one to tell you.. but your ignorance is willful.


You know.. As I go through the news stories and analyses of Ferguson.. I get so angry. But it reminds me of something. The unintentional consequences of the USA’s domination of public political discourse in much (if not all) of the ever growing hegemony that is the English speaking world. The unintended consequence of their relentless effort to be the authors of World History has handed us a very important gift.

They have provided us with a tangible connection to the most well documented of all of the African Diaspora.

For all it’s problematic simplicity we have incredible access to the so called American Civil Rights Movement. To their history of struggle for equal rights. To their heroins and to their heroes. They give us access to a fight fought, almost entirely, in the hegemonic dialect of English.

This, I believe, is a very significant point.

Their fight is tied inextricably to the articulation of their position. The reconciliation we all seek, the world over, hinges so carefully on the shared concepts between groups. It is a direct imperative that we develop these shared concepts in order to deal with the intergenerational trauma that falls on us all. That insects with us all in different ways and paints us all in different shades.

The struggle for social equality is a battle that must happen on all fronts. We must make use of these moments. Make pragmatic use of these painful pictures who’s truth you can be seen by all eyes as it burns through the lenses that lie before them.


Oceans away. I feel your pain. I don’t know what else to say beyond a call for an acknowledgement of your place in history.

In that same breath it is unfortunate, you know, that in this world some acts of violence garner more outcry than others. While many shouts and screams fall upon the deafness of our ears leaving many mothers alone with not much more to do than just.. cry.

This is the way that it is, as things stand.. And so let us be pragmatic. With tears on our faces and anger in our fists. We have the collective strength to do this. I think.

So Ferguson.

My family of the Diaspora. Make it count.

We are watching.

* Brian Ihirwe Kamanzi’s website: www.briankamanzi.wordpress.com